Originally Posted by ugaimes
I recently visited the Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, FL. Their mission is to rescue exotic cats (bobcats, fishing cats, sand cats (who were used for TARGET PRACTICE in Desert Storm ), ocelots, tigers, etc.) from roadside zoos, furriers, and irresponsible private owners. After listening to the cats' stories, talking with biologists, etc......I am still undecided. I think a ban is pretty useless b/c, of course, people will STILL own these cats. Would I personally ever own a wild cat? No way. IMO, they are not pets. However, there are people (like you John), who are passionate about these cats but, even more importantly, very very well-educated on raising these large animals and the huge committment it takes. If ALL exotic cat owners were like you, we wouldn't have that big of a problem.
My biggest issue with all of this is nature vs. nurture. I've heard different stories: Some say that, if you raise an exotic from kittenhood to adulthood, nurture would win out and they would not pose a violent risk to humans. I have major problems with that. I've had cats since they were babies and know that, if I pet them at the wrong moment, they will do their best to shred up my hand. My point being, if you want to risk that, fine, but I strongly believe that nature will win out and some exotics could make mincemeat out of their owners.
So while I'm still torn on the issue, one thing is definitely sure in my mind: NO ONE with children should have these large cats. IMO, that's child endangerment, plain and simple.
For what it's worth...
Big Cat Rescue [F.K.A. Wild Life on Easy Street] has a somewhat checkered past. Mainly due to their recent betrayal of virtually all responsible owners with many of their drastic policy changes.
Years ago this organization used to promote owning these animals, in fact they were very active breeders for the private sector. However, after the loss of the husband [he went missing many years ago, and there are many theories on where he went]. Anyway, after he went missing, things started to change. The organization shifted stances from supporting private ownership, to absolutely doing everything they can to dissuade people from owning these animals. They have some beautiful animals, and they have some really sad stories for some of them, but to use BCR as an example of what it is to own these animals isn't really all that accurate.
To get an honest perspective you need to meet people that deal with a few of these animals in a truely one on one relationship. People like Amberthe Bobcat [John/Terri]. BCR deals with way too many animals to truely build a bond with their animals, responsible private owners would rarely have so many animals at one time, so it's really a completely different thing.
BCR is one facet of the whole story. In a way, they are an animal shelter/rescue org of the Exotic Cat industry. The only real difference, is that they don't adopt their animals out to good homes like an animal shelter/rescue for common cats would. Most of their animals have a sad past, but in the hands of responsible owners [BCR in this instance] they can and do live a long, happy/healthy life.
Owning these animals is definately not for everyone, heck owning a common domestic cat is a big commitment, also one which isn't for everyone. But just because a few irresponsible people mess up, doesn't mean that the many responsible owners should be punished too.
disagree with you on the children/exotics don't mix stance. I've known quite a few people that have had these animals with children. Indeed the combination of the two is less than ideal, but with proper precautions there isn't a safety issue. The precaution is simple; keep young kids and larger cats seperate, no exceptions. Handled responsibly it can be a great learning experience for children though. There are many things in life that this theory applies to. Things that to a young child can pose a truely lethal threat, but which to a responsible adult pose more benefits than risks. Driving a car, crossing a street, swimming pools, family pets, etc.
Brief Comparative Example: Power tools and kids don't mix, but having both isn't necessarily bad. You keep the power tools seperate from the kids. As they mature you can teach them about power tools and what they are, and most importantly the level of responsibility that is required to handle them. Eventually, if they are so inclined, they will reach a point that they are both physically and mentally capable/willing to take on the responsibility. Once the kid[young adult?] reaches this level of maturity you can take a more hands on approach to teaching. Always under close supervision, in a safe/controlled environment. Even after a proficiency is attained, kids and power tools should never mix outside of a controlled/supervised environment. But with the experience and knowledge that the kid has learned, once they mature into an adult they will be quite capable of being a responsible power tool owner themselves, perhaps even able to pass the legacy down to their children too.
As with many things in life, there is always the potential for injury [sometimes even serious], but these risks can be substantially reduced by a responsible person. Responsible people learn how to prevent most problems before they ever become a problem, and also know what safety measures they can take to minimize the risk of injury should a problem occur. When driving a car, your best protection is being aware of your surroundings, of how they relate to you and you to them. You know that if it's raining you slow down and space out, to give yourself more time/space to react with for whatever may happen. You know that if you see someone driving erratically, that you should do what you can to to stay away from them. But you still buckle up....just incase. With most exotics, you understand when the animal is stressed or distracted, and you give them more space and time for you to react with. When they are behaving erratically, you try to remove yourself from the situation, unless you the cause and solution to their erraticity. For the larger exotics you don't work alone, and you try to always leave yourself a way out, while making sure that the animal cannot escape. Essentially you are aware of your surroundings, you are aware of the animal, you take necessary precautions, hoping that you won't need to use them but knowing that you have them, just incase.
Both Driving responsibly and Owning responsibly can be very rewarding tasks, the common element....Responsibility.
Suppose I'm starting to ramble here...
SpotzPS Small bit of triviality...If you replace "power tool" in my example above with "exotic animal" you still have a totally valid example. "gun" works also, as do quite a few other 'potentially dangerous' words.